Friday Night Lights, camera, action for Bo Levi Mitchell
Stamps young quarterback preparing for a chance to shine in just his second CFL start, Friday in Edmonton
The night before every football game, Bo Levi Mitchell drifts off to sleep with visions of striped arms thrown in the air and chain gangs moving the sticks.
“You have to visualize the plays you’re going to make out there and visualize how they’re going to be run and the possible things the defence can do against them,” says the Calgary Stampeders quarterback. “And you visualize the plays you’re not expecting to happen — the scramble plays, fumbles, interceptions, whatever it is.
“You see yourself taking the hit, rolling out, finding the scramble guy and throwing the touchdown.”
In order to strike the right mood before slumber, the Texan likes to watch sports movies with a message.
Think Rudy, The Blind Side, Field of Dreams — even Miracle, the story of the improbable U.S victory over Russia in men’s hockey at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid.
This week, however, Friday Night Lights is the best fit with Mitchell, who is set to make his second Canadian Football League start in the Labour Day rematch at Commonwealth Stadium. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. The Stampeders can clinch a playoff spot with a victory in hostile territory.
“You always like playing under the lights,” says Mitchell, who started the season at No. 3 on the Calgary depth chart. “And I’m feeling great. It’s just another chance for me to go out and play — another chance for me to prove myself to these guys, the fans of the team, and the coaches.
“I just want to make sure everyone knows I can come out here and play with the guys and make sure as a whole that we go out there and play better — take some of the mistakes off the field.”
On Wednesday, head coach/general manger John Hufnagel said his quarterbacking decision is not yet finalized, but all signs point to the youngster lining up under centre against Edmonton.
Drew Tate (elbow) is not at 100 per cent. Neither is Kevin Glenn, who suffered a contusion on his left knee in the second quarter of the Labour Day Classic.
Make way for Mitchell, the guy many in the 403-area code believe is the quarterback of the future for this storied franchise.
The kid mopped up Monday for Glenn in impressive fashion, going 11-of-18 for 225 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
“If we had to play today, Bo would be our number one, Drew number two and Kevin would be number three,” Hufnagel said. “I can’t tell you what Friday will bring, but I have a lot of sore players who aren’t practising.”
For his part, Glenn said he is still feeling the after-effects of an awkward sequence that led to his knee buckling on a short pass to Jon Cornish.
“I won’t rule myself out, but it is a day-to-day thing,” Glenn said. “The coaches will still make the final decision once I tell them how I’m feeling.”
Judging by the look on his face, Glenn is a ways off of perfect.
“It’s still a little sore, and you’ve got to be 100 per cent,” he said. “So that’s the biggest thing.”
Tate also sounds not even close to 100 per cent, although he is throwing the ball with more authority at practice.
“I’m ready to go in and play if I have to play,” Tate said. “That’s fine.
“I’m still not to the point where I’d like to be, but I’m at the point where I believe that if I do go, I’ll have confidence in my arm.”
The Stampeders clearly have confidence in Mitchell, especially after watching him go 29-of-33 for 376 yards and three touchdowns in his first start against Winnipeg.
“Bo, for how young he is, has tremendous poise and a type of leadership to him that you really don’t typically see,” said offensive lineman Edwin Harrison. “Even when he first got to Calgary, he had this presence in the huddle. Guys would just listen to him.
“Even with the older guys, he was like, ‘this is my huddle. I know you’ve been here and you’ve done such-and-such for this team and this franchise. That’s all well and good. But when you step into this huddle, and I’m the quarterback, this is how we’re going to run it. This is my show.’
“And I think that’s something guys not only notice, but respect.”
That respect will only grow if Mitchell can lead the Stamps to a sweep over the Eskimos in the Labour Day home-and-home.
Friday Night Lights, indeed.
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